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Santa Cruz County Explainer Articles


Image caption: A historical marker commemorates the Battle of Natividad, which took place in the Salinas Valley.
Point in Time

David Schmaltz outlines a pivotal point in California history in his Monterey County Weekly cover story on the Battle of Natividad.


Image caption: California's State Capitol, seat of a government with a colorful history, to say the least.
California’s Governmental Structure: From Chaos to Compromise

California's government was born out of utter chaos. Here's how the state developed some sort of order to the way it operates, and how it makes and enforces laws.


Image caption: California has three cities of more than 1 million people, and 187 of over 50,000.
Cities in California: What Does it Take to Be One?

California is full of places and communities, but most are not cities. Here's what it takes for a community to become a city, the benefits of being one—and why the state has a 'de facto moratorium' on new cities.


Image caption: Billionaires do not have to control where the public gets its news. There are alternatives.
Taking Back Information Control From Billionaires

Billionaires now own Twitter, Facebook and numerous other online and offline media outlets. But there are other information sources not run by the super-rich. We've found a few and listed them here.


Image caption: Owning homes is the primary way the middle class builds wealth, and an option no longer available to most Californians.
Is California’s Housing Crisis Making Inequality Worse?

California has some of the worst economic inequality in the United States. Is the housing crisis a cause?


Image caption: California aims to be 100 percent coal-free by 2026. Can other states follow suit?
Why California Uses Less Coal Than Most Other States

Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel, yet it is the source of 40 percent of the world's energy. California remains an exception to coal industry dominance, using and producing less coal that almost any other state.


Image caption: The streets of San Francisco saw one of the many women's marches held after the 2016 election.
A League of Our Own

Founded in 1920, the year that suffragettes triumphed, the League of Women Voters now protects the entire electorate’s rights.


Image caption: How did oil come to dominate both California's and the world's economy—and daily life?
Can We Break Oil’s Grip on the World Energy Economy?

Oil aka petroleum holds a tighter grip on California than any other energy source. Here's how Big Oil came to dominate the state and world economy, and some hints at how oil's grip may finally loosen.


Image caption: Yusbely Delgado Medrano, a UC Davis College Corps fellow, speaks during a swearing-in ceremony for the fellows in Sacramento on Oct. 7, 2022.
This State Program Could Help Undocumented Students Find Jobs

California’s estimated 75,000 undocumented students don’t qualify for federal work-study or most job opportunities. A new state service program launched last week, College Corps, will give hundreds of them as much as $10,000 per year to perform community service.


Image caption: Natural gas produces less CO2 than gasoline when burned, but the story is not that simple.
Natural Gas and California’s Energy Future

Natural gas is sometimes called a 'clean' fossil fuel, but it comes with considerable risks to the environment in both its use and how it is extracted. Here's how natural gas is a major cause of climate change.


Image caption: Fossil fuel gasses released into the atmosphere trap heat that reflects back to the surface.
Fossil Fuels and Climate Change: A Brief Introduction

How does extracting and burning fossil fuels cause the planet to heat up, leading to catastrophic climate change? Here's a brief explanation.


Image caption: Moss Landing in Monterey Bay is the world’s largest battery storage facility for solar and other renewable energy.
Solar Power and California’s Clean Energy Goals

Solar power, and a network of giant battery storage facilities, are playing an essential role in moving California toward its goal of exclusive reliance on renewable energy sources.


Image caption: Money that initially was earmarked for news outlets will instead be dispersed as stipends to recent graduates working in journalism in underserved communities.
SB 911 Post-Mortem

A bill in the State Legislature to fund journalism, SB 911, is officially dead. But the funding approved for it will still help fund journalism in California.


Image caption: California traffic deaths remain high, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Why Zero Traffic Fatalities Remains a Distant Goal

California’s goal of zero traffic fatalities remains distant. Here are some common causes of deaths on the road that can be fixed, but haven’t been.


Image caption: Ecology Action promotes alternative transportation year round, not just during Bike Month.
Action Heroes

For half a century, this group has reduced waste, reimagined local transportation and redesigned buildings. It’s all part of Ecology Action’s quest for sustainability.


Image caption: Critics, including some Democrats, have lambasted Biden's plan to pay off some student loans.
Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness: What Are the Haters Saying?

Critics of Joe Biden's student debt relief plan say that it causes inflation and is unfair to blue-collar workers. Do they have a point? Here's what the facts say about it.


Image caption: Student debt is a potential source of financial stress for about one in seven Americans.
Biden’s Student Debt Relief Plan: Here’s How it Works

President Joe Biden announced a plan to forgive up to $20,000 in student debt for each borrower. Here are the details on who is eligible and how the plan works.


Image caption: With CERT training, volunteers can learn firefighting skills.
Emergency Teamwork

Fires, floods, earthquakes—California’s got it all. And CERT volunteers are ready to step in.


Image caption: Edward C. Hyatt hydroelectric plant was forced to shut down due to low water levels in Lake Oroville reservoir.
Is Hydroelectric Energy Really Clean? It’s Complicated

Hydroelectric is widely thought of as renewable energy that can help California achieve its climate goals. But the state doesn't even count large hydro plants toward its goal of 100 percent renewable electricity sources.


Image caption: Members of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service hone their skills at various local events.
Listening Skills

How local amateur radio operators can help in the next big emergency.


EXPLAINER

Long form articles which explain how something works, or provide context or background information about a current issue or topic.

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